Floods of April-June 1952 in Utah and Nevada

Water Supply Paper 1260-E

Prepared in cooperation with the States of California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and agencies of the Federal Government



The floods of April-June 1952 in the Great Basin and in the Green River basin in Utah came as the result of the heaviest snow cover recorded, a long period of near-record subnormal temperature during March and early April, and an abrupt change to above-normal temperature that induced rapid melting.Rainfall played an insignificant part. Low- and intermediate-elevation snow melted, bringing many streams to record-high level. Large diurnal fluctuations of discharge were evident on smaller streams. The temperature remained high until mid-May. As high-elevation snow became primed for runoff, the temperature dropped enough to refreeze and alter the structure of snow cover, thus reducing the effectiveness of the subsequent melting temperature. Had there been no respite from melting temperatures much greater peak discharges would have occurred, with damage greatly exceeding that experienced. Streams remained at high levels for several weeks.

Record peaks were reached on Strawberry River, lower Weber River, Ogden River, Spanish Fork, lower Provo River, and Jordan River in Utah; Humboldt River and its tributaries draining the north area of the basin in Nevada; and the central Bear River in Idaho and Wyoming. Record volumes for the water year were measured on many streams in the northcentral part of Utah, the northeastern part of Nevada, and the central part of the Bear River basin in Idaho and Wyoming.

Damage in the Great Basin reached \$10 million and in the Green River basin, more than$300,000. Two lives were lost on Ogden River. The greatest urban damage, in Salt Lake City, totaled \$1.9 million; the greatest single damage, to Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, was \$510,000.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Floods of April-June 1952 in Utah and Nevada
Series title:
Water Supply Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Government Printing Office
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Utah Water Science Center
Report: viii, 110 p.; Plate: 37.00 x 25.25 inches
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Federal Government Series
Larger Work Title:
Floods of 1952 (Water Supply Paper 1260)
First page:
Last page:
United States
Nevada, Utah